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The Night — Michele Bernstein

The Night — Michele Bernstein


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A second edition of The Night with a new postface by Michèle Bernstein.

‘I am a fraud. Anyone who buys The Night (thank you) and so much as skims it might think that I used to spend my time walking the streets of Paris like the two lovers in the book. Not true. Sure, many a night I used my feet in the company of some extremely bright youngsters, the same youngsters I’d sing and drink with in a shabby little dive (the dive from which everything was to spring later). But most of the time I was pedalling silently, alone.’ – from the new postface to the second edition, Michèle Bernstein

Translated from La Nuit, 1961, into English for the first time by Clodagh Kinsella, this is the second novel of Michèle Bernstein, a founding member of the Situationist International. Following All the King’s Horses, it was also written for cash, and again cannibalises the plot of Les Liaisons dangeureuses, featuring the same characters as her debut: Gilles, Geneviève, Carole and Bertrand. The story remains the same, but the book is different, this time parodying the style of the nouveau roman, with its elongated sentences and non-linear sense of time and place. As its protagonists drift through the streets of Paris, through the entanglements of a ménage à trois, and the ennui of a summer holiday on the Côte d’Azur, The Night is littered with détournements – unattributed quotations and knowing winks at situationist practices – and clues that give insight into the lives and spirit of both the author and her husband Guy Debord.

With an original preface  and postface for the second English edition by the author, The Night was translated by Clodagh Kinsella, edited by Everyone Agrees, and designed by Erik Hartin, as part of a project with After The Night, a détournement of La Nuit, set in London, 2013. Everyone Agrees are a collective who operate and publish out of London and New York.

‘We were all Marxists, or course – still are. Totally under the charm of the old man – the genius. Maybe he will become more and more important now.’ – The Game: An interview with Michèle Bernstein, novelist and founding member of the Situationist International by Gavin Everall, frieze magazine, September 2013

‘…a paradigmatic example of Lettrist détournement – the hijacking of preexisting cultural material and its redeployment to revolutionary ends. She very successfully incorporates elements from her own life, various films and other people’s books into The Night.’ – The Night and After The Night, by Stewart Home, Art Review,September, 2013

‘Michèle Bernstein, the foremost female protagonist of the Situationist movement – and Guy Debord’s wife – cannibalised the plot of Les Liaisons dangereuses, to the extent of even borrowing the 18th century’s novels characters of Gilles, Genèvieve, Carole and Bertrand, Michèle Bernstein, for her 1957 novel La Nuit. A playfully and somewhat mockingly constructed rumination on a novel’s form, La Nuit is littered with unattributed quotations and knowing winks at situationist high jinks, with its four protagonists drifting through the streets of Paris, weaving through the entanglements of ménage à trois and the ennui of a summer holiday on the Côte d’Azur in the spirit of both the author and her husband. Translated to English for the first time by Clodagh Kinsella, and edited by the literary collective Everyone Agrees – who, at the request of Bernstein, re-interpreted La Nuit for the 21st Century. Set in east London, After the Night traces the journeys and experiences of Bèrnstein’s original characters, directly mapping them to the streets of London and enacted through email conversations, snapshots of nightlife, and the odd mention of Olivier Zahm.’ – Purple Diary, 29 July, 2013

‘Avant-gardism is in short supply these days, not least in the literary domain, where nothing is shocking any more and soporific storytelling has vanquished the taste for the back-to-front and inside-out. It was with pleasure, therefore, that we encountered TheNight / After the Night, two slim volumes published as one by Book Works of east London. The Night is a translation of La Nuit by the Situationist author Michèle Bernstein, wife of Guy Debord, the movement’s principal. First published in 1961, it is a Parisian perambulation, set in and around the Latin Quarter, with tints and highlights superimposed from the nouveau romanLes Liaisons dangereuses, and the lives of the author and her husband. Here is the opening sentence: At the corner of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Boulevard Saint-Michel lies a metro entrance, long since defunct, and bordered by the railings of a private garden. The twin volume, After the Night, comes with photographs and transcriptions of email exchanges. It is set in London, in the present. The opening lines run as follows: At the corner of Shepperton Road and Southgate Road lies the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Its scrawled chalkboard, black and white façade and pastel illustration of a hot air balloon look familiar.’ – Twin Cities, TLS, 14 June 2013

‘A possible appointment was a psychogeographical technique used by the Lettrist International and later the Situationist International. One variant of it was to go to a specific place at a specific time to meet someone who may or may not be there. When I got an invitation to the launch of the first English translation of Michèle Bernstein’s 1961 novel The Night (Book Works, 2013), I decided this was a possible appointment with its author (who was deeply involved in Lettrist and Situationist activity in the 1950s and 1960s)… I didn’t know for sure Bernstein would be at the launch…’ – A Possible Appointment With Michèle Bernstein by Stewart Home, Randnotizen, 28 May 2013

Common Objectives is a series of quick-fire, rapid-response projects from artist/writer collectives or individual art practices engaged with emerging political struggles, rejecting the idea of culture as a playground for the elite, engaging in the potent mix of free discourse, solidarity and the production of new desires and prepared to break open old worlds, either in the virtual space of communication and networks, or in the concrete world of action, discourse and distribution. Other projects in the series include: After The Night by Everyone Agrees; Bad Feelings by Arts Against Cuts; The Counsel of Spent by Inventory; Even the Dead Rise Up by Francis McKee; Move…ment, a new issue of the journal …ment, edited by Federica Bueti; Pre-enactments by Victoria Halford and Steve Beard; and Shy Radicals by Hamja Ahsan.


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